Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kmye Chan: Not Just a Flash in the Artistic Pan

Unless you’ve had your head buried in one very deep sandbox, you’d have noticed that Japanese art, film, music and fashion has had a huge impact on the stylings of its Western brethren. 

With this in mind I occasionally yack with foreign musicians and creative types about the influence of Japan on their own art, and this month I placed the spotlight on French artist Kmye Chan, with whom I’ve been liaising about a potential book cover (it's called Planet Goth and will be published in 2014 with Kmye's 'Dancing Puppet' painting, left, on the front).

The artist's name itself was a giveaway: Kmye CHAN.

Chan in Japanese is an honorific suffix originally used for babies, but these days employed to refer to anyone with an endearing quality, be the individual a super-cute grandmother or a zany seal (look up Tama-chan online for one example).

Kmye is an amazing painter, someone who has taken the obvious influence of manga and rendered it anew in a style also reminiscent to me of American comic book artist Steve Ditko. 

Who are your favourite manga artists, and which stories did you most enjoy as a fan?

“My favourite would easily be Yukito Kishiro — reading Gunnm [Battle Angel Alita] was a turning point in my drawing life. Both the artwork and plot were something completely new and out of this world, so far as my fifteen-year-old self was concerned!

“I love Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss, Nana) for her bittersweet shōjo characters and quirky linework. Graphically, I am also always amazed by Kaori Yuki’s art... When I started drawing, her work was my ultimate reference since I collected her manga and art books! And last, but not least, in my teenage years I was a massive Rurouni Kenshin fan [by Nobuhiro Watsuki] — this series still occupies a sweet spot in my heart and I happily read it over and over again.”

So you obviously would you say you’re more influenced by shōjo (girls) than mecha (giant robot) manga. Are the two compatible?

“That being said, I have read and loved my share of mecha/kaiju manga: Neon Genesis Evangelion has been a staple in my manga collection. Of course, both are compatible — they are different but both equally enjoyable. I would actually love to see a mecha manga storyline drawn with a typical shōjo manga style. That would be an interesting twist!”
“My artwork is undeniably more influenced by shōjo manga — you can see this in the flowing clothing and hair, the highly detailed, decorative style that is typical of shōjo has always been something I have been fascinated with. There is something inherently beautiful about it, where shōnen manga style [aimed at teenage boys] in general is more focused on reflecting action and movement.